It was a modern-day love story: boy meets girl at Hollywood nightclub, girl invites boy to join her on tour, boy and girl get matching dice tattoos on their wrists, get engaged two months after said club meeting, and surprise their loved ones with a top-secret wedding three months after that. Oh, and there’s a self-shot reality show somewhere in there too.
Fifteen years ago, on September 18, 2004, Spears, then 22 and newly annulled, and Federline, then 26 with two children from a previous relationship, invited 27 of their family members and close friends to a private residence in Los Angeles for what was supposed to be their engagement party.
However, upon arrival, guests received custom white invitations that read, “Surprise! It is with much love that we welcome you to our wedding ceremony tonight.” Even Spears’ parents, Jamie and Lynne, and siblings, Bryan and Jamie Lynn, had no idea.
“I think my mom was dumbfounded,” the Grammy winner said on Britney & Kevin: Chaotic. “She couldn’t believe what was going on, and when she realized it, she was so cute. She didn’t know what to say.”
The couple — who initially planned to marry that October at a resort in Santa Barbara, California — had already arranged to have pre-fitted dresses and tuxedos delivered to the home for the bridesmaids and groomsmen. After everyone was situated, a newly brunette Spears descended the stairs in a $26,000 strapless silk gown by Monique Lhuillier. Federline met her at the altar in a classic black tux.
The pair exchanged vows during a 15-minute nondenominational ceremony, surrounded by hundreds of red and hot-pink roses and candles. Jamie gave his daughter away as Lynne looked on, a moment that made the groom tear up.
“It wasn’t the big, traditional wedding,” Spears said on Chaotic. “It was cool and it was nice and special and small, and I liked it a lot.”
After saying “I do,” the bride changed into a short, sexy lace number for the reception in a tent in the backyard. Guests were served Southern comfort foods including chicken fingers, ribs, mashed potatoes, french fries and crab cakes straight out of Spears’ native Louisiana. Her longtime assistant, Felicia Culotta, caught the bouquet, and one of K-Fed’s brothers snatched up the garter.
An afterparty followed at a nearby nightclub (no, not the one where their love story began). Once again, Spears changed clothes, this time opting for a custom pink Juicy Couture jumpsuit with “Mrs. Federline” emblazoned on the back. Lynne had one with “Hot Mama,” while the bridal party members’ read “The Maids.” On the guys’ side, Federline slipped on a sweatsuit with “The Pimp,” and his groomsmen were “The Pimps.”
“We wanted to do something that was just a little different,” Federline explained with a laugh on Chaotic.
At the club, the newlyweds and their guests danced the night away with plenty of champagne to go around until the wee hours of the next morning.
Spears and Federline, however, were not legally spouses until October 6, 2004, when they finally obtained their marriage license. Twelve days later, they flew to Fiji for their honeymoon.